Three sectors are often considered major villains in contributing to huge carbon emissions leading to present climate change. Energy, automobile industry and land use, land use change and forest (LULUCF) together account for nearly 70 per cent of the entire carbon that is being spewed in the atmosphere. Out of the three, the energy sector with its coal powered mega power projects stands out as the biggest polluter contributing to 32 per cent of the entire carbon emission. Countries like China and India are quickly emerging as the biggest polluters in energy field as they are commissioning coal based power plants at a break neck speed to meet their insatiable demand for power.
As far as India is concerned right now her installed capacity is 147,000 megawatts, which makes it the sixth largest power producer in the world. Seventy five per cent of its electricity demand is met by coal based power plants. To a general citizen it may sound like a lot of gas as he or she encounters long outages everyday during peak summers, but the reality is that a 2004-05 survey shows that the divide between capacity and demand for electricity isn’t that wide as it is believed to be. In that year the demand outstripped supply by just 7-11 per cent. This shortage has more to do with loss, mismanagement and inefficient ways of using this precious resource than lack of availability.
On an average 30 to 45 per cent of electricity is lost in transmission whereas the global average is 15 per cent and if we take the best case scenario of South Korea it’s only four per cent. The second culprit is the unscrupulous user that cheats on his or her total consumption over loading the system leading to frequent breakdowns. Third reason is usage of energy guzzling appliances and stabilizers. According to one estimate to save their appliances from frequent voltage fluctuation Indians waste a whopping 28,000 megawatt of electricity every year due to the use of stabilizers.
However, good news is individuals, organisations and government alike have been working overtime to address this problem. It is a campaign that needs each one of us to change the way we use electricity. We can live a life with 24×7 electricity supply if we are able to plug the gaps properly. Using star rated energy appliances, CFL bulbs can be an option for individuals to do their bit. While organisations can go for a thorough energy audit and can also install alternative sources of energy to supplement the traditional energy they are using. This mix will bring down their dependence of traditional energy and make their growth path less carbon intensive. The government on the other hand will have to work on bringing down the transmission loss. It is often said that energy saved is energy generated so arresting 40 per cent loss will deliver most of the cities and towns from long outages.
The Bureau of Energy Efficiency has made it mandatory for ACs, refrigerators, fans and bulbs to have energy star ratings so that the consumer knows how much electricity efficient his or her appliance is. The power finance corporation of India has also launched a nationwide programme to bring down the loss in transmission from 40 per cent to globally acceptable 15 per cent with four per cent being their ultimate goal. Even the CFL lamps used in the households and official buildings are doing their bit to bring down the energy consumption.
We can all live with our recently acquired material comforts without an iota of inconvenience or guilt if we are ready to pay our bills properly, invest in a slightly expensive but relevant technology and better management and utilization of our existing resource.